For Immediate Release
January 7, 2019
Deborah Hamilton, Hamilton Strategies, [email protected], 610.584.1096, ext. 102, or Patrick Benner, ext. 104
Ohio Becomes 28th State to Criminalize FGM
EndFGMToday: Gov. Kasich Signs Bill That Outlaws Female Genital Mutilation in Ohio, Protecting At-Risk Women and Girls in the State
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The national EndFGMToday campaign is applauding Ohio Gov. John Kasich and state lawmakers for a bipartisan effort to protect women and girls from the horrific and barbaric procedure of female genital mutilation (FGM).
The Ohio House of Representatives voted in favor of a bill to outlaw FGM in the state mid-last month. The bill, SB214, had passed the Ohio Senate unanimously with bipartisan support on Dec. 5 and was sponsored by Sens. Louis Terhar and Peggy Lehner. Twenty-three other Ohio senators co-sponsored the effort, and 49 members of the House also signed on to the bill. Kasich signed the bill into law Friday afternoon.
“All of us involved with the #EndFGMToday movement are thankful that Ohio lawmakers have seen the importance of outlawing FGM in their state,” said internationally renowned attorney and child welfare advocate Elizabeth Yore, who heads EndFGMToday. “SB214 appears to be a ‘gold standard’ bill in that it not only outlaws the procedure, but also prohibits trafficking for the purpose of having FGM performed and provides for severe sanctions for any doctor who performs the procedure. This strong bill will also trigger an automatic review by the State Medical Board of Ohio of doctors who perform the procedure.”
The move makes Ohio the 28th state to criminalize FGM, as 27 other states across the nation have instituted their own laws that criminalize the barbaric procedure of FGM, which is performed on girls as young as 7 years old and leaves physical and emotional scars for a lifetime.
In Ohio, 24,320 girls and women are at risk for FGM, including 12,079 girls under age 18, according to research by the Population Reference Bureau and reported by Cleveland.com.
State laws criminalizing FGM are especially important after a district judge in Michigan ruled that the federal FGM law was unconstitutional, in the process dismissing charges against three alleged FGM perpetrators awaiting trial in Detroit.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than 500,000 women and girls are at risk for FGM in the U.S. Yore also noted that female genital mutilation is recognized by both the World Health Organization and the United Nations as a human rights violation perpetrated upon little girls and women. Over 200 million women worldwide have been subjected to this cruel practice.